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The Miraculous Gifts of the Holy Spirit

There are individuals in the religious world today who claim to possess the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. Religious programs portray televangelists speaking in tongues and healing the sick. However, excitement over these gifts is no longer limited to “charismatic” churches. In recent years, I have heard members of several different mainstream denominations claim to have the ability to speak in tongues.

No one can deny that the apostles and some other Christians in the New Testament possessed the ability to perform miracles. The question that we will address in this article is whether or not the Bible teaches that these same gifts exist today?  

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Contending for the Faith: Speaking in an "Unknown Tongue"

(The anonymous note below arrived via e-mail. It is published as it came to me. –LRH.)

    To someone who has never experienced speaking in what we as Pentecostal some time call an unknown tong.It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t believe. I could give you vers,but I am sure you would counter them with other vers.
    I speak from experience. I was not raised Pentecostal. But I can tell you it real and when I speak in that heavenly language it not jibes it the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in me and through me to edify the Church. In my life time of be used in this gift of God it has never brought harm are confusion to the Body of Christ
    I have never see Jesus face to face. But I know he real and he has saved me from death and given me hope of an eternal future with him.
    Seek and you to will fine that some things are not debatable but excepted that we may better serve God.

Reply: First, since the author did not say, I do not know what I have said that has brought his reaction. It would help this reply if I knew the material to which he is objecting.

Second, it should be noted that, whether right or wrong, I have set forth my views openly and plainly, not anonymously. If the author truly has the spiritual gifts he claims to have, why should he be afraid? Why should he hide behind the cloak of anonymity? Of what does he have to be ashamed? Those who had certain miraculous gifts in the New Testament spoke "with all boldness" (Acts 4:29, 33; 14:3; Eph. 6:18-20). If he has what they had, why does he not do the same?

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Contending for the Faith: Thoughts on Speaking in Tongues

The following request recently came to me:

    Would you mind sharing your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 13:1; 14:2 and the issue of speaking in tongues. My brother is a Pentecostal, and we have discussed this issue (along with several other issues) at length. I have pointed out that tongues is being able to speak in other languages, which he agrees with but then he says it is also speaking in the tongue of angels — saying his spirit is speaking to God — as he points out in the verses above. Can you offer some insight on what the "tongues of angels," 13:1, and "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries," 14:2?

First, though Paul is using hyperbolic (exaggerated) language to stress a point in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, he gives no comfort to modern Pentecostalism. Men do have tongues, or languages (Acts 2:4, 6, 8, 11; 1 Corinthians 13:1). Those tongues, or languages, are not incoherent, multi-syllable jibber jabber. Rather, they are coherent, comprehensible languages, as Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 clearly show.

(Compare Cornelius and his household who spoke in tongues. Those present knew the languages spoken, for they knew they were magnifying God [Acts 10:46]. However, they could not have known if they were magnifying or maligning God if they had not understood the languages. See 1 Corinthians 14:9, 16 "except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken….how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned [‘the unlearned’ one is simply the one who does not know the language spoken-LRH] say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" Further, we know the languages spoken by Cornelius ["the Gentiles"] were understandable, for Peter said it reminded him of "the beginning" at Pentecost, and we know those languages were understood by those who heard them [Acts 2:4-11].)

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